There seems to be something about being bright, ambitious, and talented in Nashville that leads people to take a dramatic left turn, and that certainly seems to be the case with Jann Browne. A former vocalist with Asleep at the Wheel, Browne scored a couple of minor hits in an updated honky tonk style in the early '90s before she got lost in the shuffle of the Garth/Billy Ray boom. Browne's fourth album, Missed Me By a Mile, is a very different kettle of fish, and it happens to be a pretty tasty bouillabaisse; cut with a tight but soulful roots rock band (anchored by guitarist and co-producer Matt Barnes), Browne's voice is in great shape, but her music has gained some welcome grit and hard-won attitude since her brief brush with fame, and her songwriting has gotten tougher and smarter at the same time. "Cold Here in London" and "The Lucky Few" are witty character studies that really resonate; "Don't Worry About Tomorrow" and "Can't Build a Better Love" are songs about romance written by someone who happens to be living in the real world; and the title cut is as good a kiss-off to a former lover as you're likely to hear this year. Like Lucinda Williams and Shelby Lynne, Jann Browne has decided there's no room in her life for Nashville polish, and it's done her a world of good -- anyone looking for a strong dose of root-conscious songwriting sung by someone with top-shelf country pipes would do well to give Missed Me By a Mile a spin.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming